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© Alamy - Anwar Uddin (centre) celebrates Dagenham and Redbridge's 2010 League 2 play-off win

Fans for Diversity lead Anwar Uddin awarded MBE

The Football Supporters’ Association’s Anwar Uddin has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2022, in recognition of his work leading the Fans for Diversity campaign and a playing career spanning more than 20 years.

Fans for Diversity is a partnership between the FSA and Kick It Out which celebrates football to ensure that all fans feel welcome, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, faith, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristic.

“I’m surprised, shocked, humbled, and was not expecting to get this! I’ve won trophies in football and, as a player, you visualise that – but I could never have imagined this. It’s not a path I expected at all,” said Anwar.

“Six years ago I joined the FSA to launch the campaign and since then we’ve done more than 200 events and helped 100-plus new supporter groups form, helping them along the way too. There are now thousands of people watching football because of that work.”

Team effort

“I’m just the one who’s fortunate enough to work on the campaign full time but it’s a real team effort and as far as I’m concerned this award is for all the volunteers and people in football who’ve backed us and made the campaign happen.”

Anwar’s Bangladeshi heritage means he’s from an underrepresented community too, in terms of the numbers of people from that background who’ve broken into the sport.

He played more than 300 games as a professional for teams including including Barnet, Bristol Rovers, and Dagenham and Redbridge, and won the 1999 FA Youth Cup with West Ham United.

Anwar has been responsible for many firsts including: the first player from a South Asian background to captain a Premier League or EFL team, coach England C, and join the FA Council.

“Myself and Fans for Diversity were always well suited because of that and even at my age I feel like there’s still a lot of ‘firsts’ happening – I was the first player from my background to captain a team, and now the first to be coaching the England C Team, and on the FA Council.

“The transition from being a player, into a post-football job and a new life can be really, really difficult for many ex-pros but the FSA and all the people who work with us have made that transition so much easier – a massive thanks to everyone who’s been involved. I feel privileged to be in a position to help people access the beautiful game, which has been so kind to me.”

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball